Bilateral agreements EPBC: What You Need to Know
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) is one of the most significant environmental laws in Australia. Its objective is to protect and conserve the environment, as well as promote ecologically sustainable development. The EPBC Act places a strong emphasis on conserving biodiversity and the natural heritage of Australia.
One of the key features of the EPBC Act is the ability for the Australian Government to enter into bilateral agreements with the states and territories. These agreements allow for the delegation of environmental assessment and approval powers to the states and territories. This means that the states and territories are responsible for carrying out assessments and approvals under the EPBC Act, instead of the Australian Government.
Bilateral agreements have been around since the EPBC Act was introduced in 1999. However, significant changes were made in 2014, which resulted in the introduction of a new assessment bilateral agreement, a new approval bilateral agreement, and a new compliance bilateral agreement.
The new assessment bilateral agreement allows for state and territory governments to undertake assessments of projects that may impact matters of national environmental significance (MNES). The approval bilateral agreement allows for state and territory governments to make decisions on proposed actions that are likely to have a significant impact on MNES. The new compliance bilateral agreement allows for the states and territories to take enforcement action in relation to breaches of the EPBC Act.
The introduction of these new bilateral agreements has been met with mixed reactions from different stakeholders. Supporters of the agreements suggest that it will improve efficiency and reduce red tape, as well as increase certainty for proponents of projects. However, critics argue that the agreements could result in a reduction of environmental standards and increased risks to threatened species and ecosystems.
It is important to note that bilateral agreements do not remove the obligations under the EPBC Act to protect matters of national environmental significance. The Australian Government retains a number of important roles and responsibilities, including oversight and auditing of state and territory decision-making processes.
In conclusion, bilateral agreements EPBC are an important feature of the EPBC Act. They enable the delegation of environmental assessment and approval powers to the states and territories, potentially improving efficiency and reducing red tape. However, they also need to balance the need for environmental protection and biodiversity conservation with economic development and job creation. As with any major policy change, they will continue to be a topic of debate and discussion among stakeholders for years to come.